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Across the country, the discourse on challenges like stress, anxiety and depression is changing. More and more people are investing not only in their physical fitness, but also in their mental health.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association reported an increase in demand for mental health treatment and services. The world needs qualified mental health professionals to meet this need and help clients and communities.
If you’re wondering how to become a counseling psychologist, an online Masters in Counseling Psychology is a great place to start. With this degree, you can provide counseling and therapy services to help meet the high demand for the profession.
What is a Masters in Counseling Psychology?
A Masters in Counseling Psychology is an advanced degree that prepares graduates to social work professions, community and social services and counselling. Counseling psychology programs are often multidisciplinary, blending foundational and theoretical courses in psychology with internship experiences in counseling.
This advanced degree equips learners with the knowledge they need to confidently provide consulting services to a variety of clients.
From a developmental perspective, counseling psychology provides theory on things like cultural diversity, family dynamics, job satisfaction, and rehabilitation. Counseling psychologists can provide services to individuals, couples, families and groups.
Most programs require 36 to 54 credits and last one to two years. Schools often vary in terms of full-time and part-time enrollment, and online master’s in counseling psychology programs may deliver courses synchronously or asynchronously. Students who plan to work full-time while enrolled may wish to take asynchronous courses. These do not involve scheduled class hours.
Some students are attracted to master’s degree programs in counseling psychology because these degrees lead to stable salaries in a helping profession. Many graduates derive personal and professional satisfaction from helping others while earning a living wage.
The best master’s programs in counseling psychology are accredited by the Board of Counseling and Related Programs Accreditation.
Admission Requirements for Masters in Counseling Psychology
Prospective MA students in Counseling Psychology do not necessarily need an undergraduate degree in a related field. However, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Some programs may also require prerequisite psychology coursework for incoming students who have completed their undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields.
Additional admission requirements often include letters of recommendation, statements of purpose or essays, resumes, and official transcripts. In rare cases, some counseling psychology master’s programs may require applicants to have relevant work experience or complete interviews over the phone or via Zoom.
Some counseling psychology programs also require applicants to submit GRE scores, especially if they do not have a 3.0 GPA. Check each program’s website for specific score thresholds.
Courses in a master’s program in counseling psychology
Below are three foundational courses that often appear in master’s degree programs in counseling psychology. Although these courses are standard, each program is different. Keep in mind that the three courses we outline below are just a few examples of what you might encounter in a graduate counseling psychology program.
Lifelong human development
This investigative course, which counseling psychology students often take during their first two semesters, explores how individuals grow and change throughout their lives. Topics covered may include biological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors that can alter and influence human development. Additional topics may include seizures, abnormal psychology, family dynamics, and psychopathology in the developmental context.
Marriage and family counseling
In this course, students learn both theoretical and practical interventions to provide counseling to couples and families. Courses often look at the systemic elements affecting couples and families, as well as the potential impact of mental health issues, trauma, and other social and emotional factors in these contexts.
Internship and Internship
All states require counselors to obtain a license before they can practice. This process generally requires the completion of an approved program and a certain number of supervised hours.
Counseling psychology students often supplement these hours with internships and internships during their programs. These fieldwork experiences involve supervised practice in approved counseling placement sites.
Careers for Graduates of the Masters in Counseling Psychology
Median annual salary: $82,510
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +6%
job description: Clinical psychologists and counselors meet with clients and patients to diagnose and provide treatment for addiction, anxiety, stress, family and marital issues, and other mental health issues. These professionals can work with individuals, couples, families or groups. Most states require counseling psychologists to earn a doctorate in the field before they can be licensed.
Median annual salary: $60,510
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +10%
job description: Working in K-12 schools, school counselors help students of all ages develop social and academic skills. Counselors who work in high schools can also help students apply to colleges. They can also write letters of recommendation for college applicants. Most states require counselors working in public schools to obtain a state-issued license, which usually involves earning a master’s degree and passing the appropriate PRAXIS test. These professionals often hold a Masters in School Psychology.
Median annual salary: $50,390
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +9%
job description: Social workers help designated populations and communities to access services and deal with day-to-day challenges. Social workers may work specifically with children, families, sick patients or the elderly. Most states require social workers to obtain a license, which usually involves a degree from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Licensed Clinical Social Workers usually require a graduate degree.
Frequently Asked Questions About a Masters in Counseling Psychology
Is a Masters in Counseling Psychology Worth It?
While no degree can guarantee you a job, most graduates find a master’s degree in psychology worthwhile. Counseling psychology offers a high return on investment, as degree holders can often earn at least $50,000 a year while helping others and providing a valuable service.
What Kind of Jobs Can You Get With a Masters in Counseling Psychology?
Possible job titles for those with a master’s degree in counseling psychology include counseling psychologist, school counselor, social worker, and substance abuse, behavioral disorders, or mental health counselor. Most of these careers also require a state-issued license.